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[181]

XXXVI. the new theory of language.

In a late number of Science1 a new theory of the utmost interest is brought forward by one of the most eminent of American philologists, Horatio Hale. It forms the substance of an address given at Buffalo, New York, in his capacity as vice-president of the anthropological section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He thinks that it solves one of the scientific questions that seemed most hopeless; and the solution has peculiar interest as showing how the most important results may follow from things usually held trifling — in this case, from the most unintelligible chatter of children. For many readers his conclusions will have especial interest through this fact, that the earliest clew to this remarkable discovery — if such it be — was given by the observations of a mother in her nursery.

No puzzle outstanding in science has been greater than how to account for the variety of languages among men. It is easy enough to explain the diversity

1 August 27, 1886.

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